Satisfaction part 2

One of the blessings of living without a regular income is that my chasing of material things has become severely hampered.  I have been forced to learn contentment in the times when I don’t have the power to acquire what I would have thoughtlessly acquired before.  Another blessing of not having a regular job is that it has also forced me to seriously consider how I spend my time particularly with my wife and children.  They too are deserving of my presence and I am needy of theirs.

Recently as I have been contemplating my ‘inverted parenting’ and my messianic pretensions, some of which simply flows out of family of origin and oldest son stuff, I have become aware that not only am I very good at sorting everybody else out (Even recently, my wife has had to tell me on at least two occasions not to parent her as I have tried to make sure she gets up in time to get the children’s lunches ready for school) but on the flip side, I am not very good at allowing others to help me carry my burdens.  It took me a lot of effort to tell my wife I needed more of her time and presence.  She readily received my request, but I struggled to acknowledge and own my own neediness.

To be present in the way God is calling me to be present is truly a learning to trust fully in him.  It is the ability to accept the life he has given me along with all that it contains both good and bad.  As Job responded in worship to God after disaster upon disaster had befallen him, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  To be present to others is a call to trust God fully in their lives, responding as he leads.  This means that whilst it is always right to pray for and with them, bringing their concerns to God and expecting him to respond and answer, I also need to trust God to do what is best for them even when it doesn’t seem as they or I would choose.

To be present to God means that I don’t need to be concerned with tomorrow.  As Jesus says, “Tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”   To be truly present to God means that I can indeed thank him in all circumstances knowing that he is indeed working all things together for my good.  If God is for us, who or what can be against us?  Surely this fact alone is enough to quieten our anxious hearts.

1Th 5:16 Rejoice always, 1Th 5:17 pray continually, 1Th 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Jesus made it clear that seeking God’s Kingdom first and His righteousness is enough.  He also made it clear that loving God and others is all that he requires.  If we can only quieten or dismiss the many other voices of demand and expectation in our overloaded brains imagine how deeply satisfied most of us might be.  Imagine how differently we might arrange our time.  Imagine how different our relationships might be both with those closest to us and those we only encounter briefly.  Imagine how we might be impacted if others treated us as bearers of God’s image rather than a means to their own success, spiritual or otherwise.

I have a dear friend who suffers considerably with depression.  He has been given a significant time off work by his doctor as a result.

Feeling stressed and burdened?

Despite the difficulty of his condition he is convinced he is exactly in the place where God wants him.  My friend, despite his depression, has found satisfaction and what Jesus would call peace.  God may one day heal my friend of his depression and we all pray that this takes place.  But, like Betsy ten Boom in the Nazi concentration camp, he is convinced that the lessons he is learning concerning God’s faithfulness and love, that no pit is so deep that God’s love isn’t still deeper, is worth even the cost of depression.  I suspect that there are many people in our churches that are missing such discoveries because of their striving for success, healing, prosperity, influence and the like.  Instead of learning as Mary did that sitting at Jesus’ feet is enough, like Martha, they are desperately working to gain the favour and recognition of others and even of God, something they already have, thinking when they have this favour or recognition then they will at last be satisfied.

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”